A “gateway” is an attractive feature at key city entry points that helps identify and define the community.
As part of the Grow Grand Island Initiative, the Central Nebraska Regional Airport serves as a “gateway” into Grand Island. More than 150,000 passengers and greeters are expected to use the airport in 2016.
With a new state-of-the-art airline terminal set to open in March, passengers will catch a glance of the local culture and notice a touch of elegance as they wind their way through the bright and airy terminal. Beautiful murals of local landscapes and river schematics in the terrazzo flooring will remind you of the beauty we know as Grand Island and of Central Nebraska. They will also notice a blend of beautiful stone and brick showing the diversity of materials found in the Grand Island area. The new airline terminal will “set the stage” for visitors coming to Grand Island for the first time. This beautiful image will greet our visitors as well as send them off.
Supporting the Central Nebraska Regional Airport in the development of air service strategies — which is another Grow Grand Island initiative — is critical for commerce and tourism to grow in Central Nebraska.
The Essential Air Service (EAS) program was put into place to guarantee smaller communities served by certified air carries to maintain a minimum level of scheduled air service. Since the airport is being subsidized by the EAS program, we are somewhat restricted on how much new air service we can add before losing our subsidy for American Airline that provides service to Dallas/Fort Worth.
There are a few similar-sized airports in the Midwest that have secured additional air service over and above the EAS requirements. These airports have secured additional flights by providing revenue guarantees to airlines to minimize the risk exposure. The risk exposure is the revenue shortfall the airline could experience if certain revenue minimums are not met.
If the air service is supported and the airlines meet the revenues minimums, the revenue guarantees are not needed. The revenue guarantees are being funded by private industry, universities and state funding. Revenue guarantees have been successful in the recruitment of additional air service at airports all across the United States. Some airlines are requiring $3 million or more in revenue guarantees.
As we continue to earn additional air service, the question becomes, what destination makes sense for us, or do we want to add additional frequencies to Dallas/Fort Worth? American Airlines has invested an incredible amount of resources in providing air service to the Central Nebraska Regional Airport and I would hope any future decisions on air service keep that in mind.
If you are interested in learning more about these Grow Grand Island efforts, visit www.growgrandisland.com.
Mike Olson is executive director of the Central Nebraska Regional Airport.